So you will be glad to hear I’ve officially started working today. Enough with the free loading. Time to get those muscles rolling and earn my stay. I’ve currently moved to a non organic farm in Tooperang, about one hour south of Adelaide city. I have to say this place is pretty remote. Not to say right in the middle of nowhere. When I look outside my window all I see is brown grass (due to the scorching heat), trees and sheep. And every five hours you’re lucky enough to see a car pass.
My hosts who own the farm, Sammy (Samantha) and Nick, are about my age and really nice people. I found them through Helpx. There was one thing in their advertisement that especially encouraged me to reach out to them: “If you are the type of person who likes to enjoy food and wine, who isn’t fussed about helping to clean, and do a few outdoor jobs with our animals we need to hear from you.” Well I do like to wine and dine. I just brought a load of wine from Nairn’s vinyard as a welcoming gift. Including the Moscato, a pink sparkling wine I think I will marry soon.
The farm stretches out to 200 acres. There are 400 sheep who needs to be taken care of as well as some dogs, cats, chickens, goats, horses and cattle. This definitely is a busy place. Backpackers from all over the world fly in here to work in exchange for accommodation and food. They’ll help on the farm, leave again after some time, while some just stay forever. At the moment there are two backpackers here. Noah and Pierre. There are also two Australian girls here -Jesse and Jenny- who are staying here semi permanently. They’re sleeping in the large house with Sammy and Nick. I stay out in ‘the shed’ with Pierre. It’s a separate ‘house’ (made out of corrugated sheet) with two bedrooms and a kitchen. This is also a common room where everybody meets, eats and just relaxes and watch movies or play video games. I have a room all to myself with a double bed and enough place to unpack. Don’t expect too much of it. It is basically a small container unit but I feel very ‘backpacky’ in there since it’s super basic. Even though Sammy tried to make it girl friendly by putting towels on the bed accompanied by a little piece of soap and provided me with a mirror and a clothing rack, INCLUDING HANGERS. One week traveling and I was already getting tired of living out of my backpack. There’s also a fan, which will come in handy since I reckon temperature in this shed can rise up to 40 degrees. I’m really interested in what this will give in the morning. A toasted Evelien for breakfast, no doubt.
Since I arrived on Australia Day, my hosts didn’t expect me to start working right away. “Just relax, unpack and put your feet up”. As I started to decorate my little room, putting some of my stuff up, I spotted some dead insects lying under the bed. No biggie. Until I suddenly started freaking out juuuuust a little. Two boxes in my head got checked: ‘dark’ and ‘outdoors’. This place could easily be a breeding spot for Redbacks (Redback spiders, related to the infamous Black Widow) and other dangerous arachnids. I suddenly remembered Australia is the country that resides 8 out of 10 of the most dangerous spiders and snakes. Everything here is out to eat you. I decided to tiptoe over to Nick and ask him about dangerous visitors…. without sounding too much like a city girl. “Ow yeah there are definitely some Redbacks out here”, he smiled.
Me: ” Out here, you mean outside?” (faint laugh)
Nick: “Yeah outside, but also in your accommodation unit. You can occasionally spot one in your kitchen. They’re quite shy though. They tend to hide and make their nest behind stuff in the cupboards.”
“NEST?”, I thought.
Me: “Say Nick, aren’t Redbacks …er… I don’t know….deadly?”
Nick: “Well not when you’re a young, healthy goose like you are (laugh). If you’re old and get bitten, you usually die. Once they bite you it hurts pretty bad and you will start to feel really sick.” (I’ve consulted Dr Google => In the final stage the poison can paralyze you and shut down your vital organs. This is when you die, red.) “I once got bitten on my lower back. The pain spread out to my crotch and it felt like someone kicked me rrrright in the nuts! (laughing loud)”
Me: “Uhu… So Redbacks are my main concern here. Alright. I can live with that. I will just look out for spiders with a red back then. I can do this.”
Nick: “Yeah you should look out for them whenever you enter the chicken shed, just look above your head for a second. Just to be sure. And if you see some piece of tin foil lying around make sure you lift it with a stick just to be sure there’s no brown snake lying underneath.”
Me: “THERE ARE BROWN SNAKES?” (This is the second most poisonous snake in the world, f.y.i.)
Nick: “Yeah and black snakes as well. They live in the water. As long as you don’t mess with them they’ll leave you alone. But yeah, when you get bitten by them the poison spreads kinda quickly and you could die from it. Might also want to look out for white tip spiders.”
Me: “Say Nick, this is maybe a -haha- silly question but…Just to be safe here…. Are there any hospitals in the area??”
Nick: “Yeah there’s one a 15 minute drive away. But if you get bitten just call 000, it’s the Australian emergency number. They’ll get here quicker than a kangaroo on anabolic steroids.” (That’s not exactly what he said, but I forgot his exact words. Farm lingo. Not that easy to follow.)
Me: “Right… Anything else I need to look out for?”, I hardly dared to ask.
Nick: “Well, bush fires tend to occur in this area. There recently was one only 5K away, which is really close. If you see one arriving, just take your passport and run.”
Djeez, they should have put all THIS in their ad. What did I get myself into? Sure ‘adventure’ looks nice on paper and in Instagram hashtags but I could experience some serious pain here or end up an all you can eat spider buffet. I decided to keep the insect spray really close that night. And to sleep with one eye open. I kinda felt some melancholy bubbling up when I thought about my other host family. And how lucky I was to have stayed with them for free for a week. In a house with actual doors, air conditioning, … Safe enough to raise a baby so safe enough for me. But that’s why I embarked on this trip now didn’t I? To avoid curling up in comfort zones. I’m sure my stay here will be something to never forget. If I live to tell the tale, that is. What is really reassuring is that Sammy and Nick are putting up numbers of hospitals on the refrigerator as we speak. Apparently I am the first backpacker they have over who started asking about hospitals in the area…
Anywho, I should be going now. Second barbie of the day is about to take place. I must be a real Aussie now.
Definitely don’t want to run into this guy. What makes it more interesting: it’s actually very small. I was looking for a big ass spider in my room earlier. Guess I’ll check more thoroughly later tonight.